Shadow and Act Essay

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In the following essay, O'Meally examines Ellison's intentions in Shadow and Act, citing Ellison's "single-minded intention to define Afro-American life."

The initial appeal of Shadow and Act seemed to be that here, at last, the "invisible man" would emerge from underground; that here, as one reviewer proclaimed, was Ralph Ellison's "real autobiography.' It is true that Shadow and Act has autobiographical overtones. Two pieces, the Introduction and "Hidden Name and Complex Fate," are explicitly autobiographical in design. And in the book's reviews and interviews the author draws extensively upon his own experience. Furthermore, by including essays (none retouched) written over a span of twenty-two years, Ellison reveals certain aspects of his development from the twenty -eight year-old, Marxist-oriented WPA worker of "The Way It Is" (1942) to the seasoned writer of 1964:now he was "not primarily concerned with injustice, but with art."

In his Introduction Ellison offers a...

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This section contains 5,244 words
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Buy the Shadow and Act Study Guide
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Nonfiction Classics for Students
Shadow and Act from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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